My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTY-THREE
Under the Garuda

THE old Dutch Colonial Empire of Insulinde no longer flies the colours of the House of Orange. Everywhere we are greeted by the Garuda, the Indonesian Eagle of Liberty.

Our visit to Indonesia lasted three months during which we grew to love the land and the people. The country is one perpetually lush green garden in which it is difficult to find a single foot of earth without rioting, luxuriant vegetation. In the garden of our hotel situated in the modern business quarter of the town, the trees were ablaze with red and blue blossom and from our veranda we could almost grasp the orchids that grew on them.

We had been warned against the tropical climate, but there was hardly an occasion when we found the heat really oppressive. At weekends it took us one and a half hours at most by car to reach Bogor (formerly Buitenzorg) in the mountains where the Government maintains a guest-house at Tugu, more than two thousand feet up, and where it was often actually cold at night. We were not a little surprised the first time we went there, when Herr Schamberger, the manager of the guest-house, greeted us in German. He was a former chief steward of the Norddeutscher Lloyd whom President Soekarno of Indonesia had engaged as head chef.

Tugu was half-way along the road to Bandoeng and already in a part of the territory where surprise attacks and fights with gangs of bandits were frequent. There was still a great deal of insecurity in the country, though mainly confined to West Java, and the road to Tugu was occasionally patrolled by sentries. But we never encountered any unpleasantness. The rural population was always friendly; kindliness is, in fact, a characteristic of the whole Indonesian people. During our stay we often drove through the countryside in Bali, North and South Sumatra, and also in Central Java and never met with any mishap. In the Bali villages the women still go naked from the waist upwards, but in the towns they usually wore some sort of a loose jacket. We visited several plantations in Northern Sumatra where the owners and managers all told us that they got on very well with the population. True,

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